Phrasal Verbs As Nouns

Many phrasal verbs can become nouns. For example, you can “start up” a company (phrasal verb) or work in a “start-up” (phrasal noun) – a small company.

When a phrasal verb becomes a phrasal noun, sometimes the verb comes first, like “start-up”; and sometimes the preposition comes first, such as “outbreak”.

To show that it’s a noun, you can either put a hyphen between the noun and the preposition (“start-up”) or write it as one word (“startup”). Hyphenated nouns are considered more formal than one word.

25 Common Phrasal Nouns

blackout = when there is no electricity
“The storm caused a blackout of several hours.”

= when news is not reported
“The judge imposed a news blackout during the trial.”

breakdown = when something stops working
“I had to call the breakdown recovery service when the electrics failed in my car.”
“The breakdown in the talks happened because the two sides couldn’t agree on anything.”

= when something is divided into smaller parts
“Can you get me a breakdown of our costs?”

= when you suffer from depression and you can’t function
“How many people suffer from nervous breakdowns every year?”

break-in = when burglars enter your house by force
“This area suffers a lot of break-ins.”

burnout = when you’ve worked too hard for too long and you stop feeling happy in your job
“If you don’t take enough time off, you risk burnout.”

check-up = a medical exam
“I’m going for a check-up tomorrow.”

comeback = when you try to become famous or important again
“The band are trying to make a comeback with their new tour and album.”

crackdown = when the authorities become very strict about something
“The school is having a crackdown on behaviour, and they’re giving lots more detentions.”

downturn = a reduction (often in finances)
“The economic downturn meant that many companies made less profit.”

dropout = someone who leaves school or university early
“Make sure you revise for your exams – you don’t want to be a dropout!”

flashback = when you get a sudden memory from the past
“Even though the accident was years ago, I still get flashbacks.”

handout = something that is given to you – like a document or other type of support
“The teachers always give us handouts with the lesson notes on them.”
“Many people depend on state handouts to buy food and other essentials.”

hang-up = a psychological anxiety about yourself
“He grew up in a very repressed family and he has lots of hang-ups.”

kick-off = when a ball game like football or rugby starts
“What time is kick-off?”

let-down = a disappointment
“I was looking forward to seeing the film for ages, but it was a bit of a let-down.”

makeover = a complete change to make something / someone more attractive
“House makeover programmes are very popular at the moment.”

meet-up = where you meet people (longer than a meeting – often hours or days)
“Once a year the company has a meet-up in an exotic location.”

outbreak = when there are lots of cases of a particular illness
“Chinese authorities are worried about an outbreak of the coronavirus.”

outburst = when someone shows great emotion (especially anger)
“I don’t want to talk to you right now after that outburst!”

outcome = result
“If we want a different outcome, I think we should do it differently.”

rip-off = when something costs too much money
“£40 for a ticket is a complete rip-off!”

shout-out = when you publicly praise someone
“This is a shout-out for all the team – they did great work!”

show-off = a person who does things to get attention
“Her daughter is such a show-off on stage!”

tip-off = secret information
“The police acted on a tip-off and arrested the suspect as he was having dinner in a restaurant.”

turnover = the amount of money a company generates
“Our turnover is up, but our profits are down.”

workaround = a partial solution to a problem
“We don’t have the resources to fully research the problem, but we’ve found a workaround for now.”

Phrasal verbs and phrasal nouns are very common in spoken English and when YOU use them you’ll sound more natural. Get the most common ones PLUS the chance to have regular speaking practice when you join the English Fluency Club.

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